Former Muncy wrestling coach sues district

MUNCY — A former Muncy High School wrestling coach is suing the school district, its superintendent and a district board member after he says the superintendent and board member defamed his name.

Denny L. Harer, Muncy School District’s wrestling coach since 2005, did not have his annual contract renewed at the end of the 2018 season in June. He faced various accusations including allowing his students to use saunas and diuretics to lose weight.

The suit was filed with Lycoming County Court on Oct. 17 and demands a jury trial between Harer and Muncy School District, Superintendent Craig Skaluba and District Board Member Scott McClean. Cited within the compliant are three separate counts of defamation.

Harer claims that on or around April 19, Skaluba cited numerous incidents to prove that the then-wrestling coach was unfit for his position and that the incidents he cited were untrue.

Skaluba reportedly told the board that Harer went against compliance with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Sports Medicine Guidelines when he allowed his players to use saunas and sauna suits to drop weight. The suit also states that he told the board that Harer yelled expletives toward referees, confronted a board member at a local event, allowed unapproved individuals to participate in wrestling activities and more during his 13 years as head coach.

“The scandalous, defamatory and slanderous statements made by Skaluba, and the implications contained therein are wholly false,” The suit states. “Defendant Skaluba knew or should have known that the statements and the implications contained in his statements were wholly false.”

The suit then goes on to explain how the alleged defamation hurt Harer’s name after he was removed from his position.

“Plaintiff has been greatly injured and his good name, credit and reputation, both in his private life and as an employee of the Muncy School District, and has been brought into public scandal and disgrace, all of which has been to his great financial loss and damage,” the suit said.

The suit places the blame for this defamation both on Skaluba and on the district, stating that Skaluba was employed by the district at this time.

McClean, a board member of the school since 2012, also is a defendant in the case and the suit accuses McClean of defaming Harer in a local business.

According to the suit, McClean responded to a question regarding Harer’s position in public. The suit quotes McClean as saying: “Bet ya didn’t hear that he (Harer) hospitalized a kid and less than 24 hours after he was released he had him back at practice in a sauna suit.”

Harer is demanding a settlement of over $50,000 from the three defendants. Skaluba and the district have not yet received the complaint, but were made aware of it in the past week.

“We have not yet been served with it, however, we believe our treatment of Mr. Harer was at all times fair and consistent with legal requirements,” Skaluba said. “We expect that through our legal representatives, we will vigorous contest Mr. Harers contentions.”